Headaches are a fact of life. Over 98 percent of the world’s population is believed to have experienced them sometime. In severe cases, headaches can adversely affect quality of life of the sufferer.
Headaches include primary headaches and secondary headaches and those that affect the cranial nerves. Primary headaches include tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and other less common varieties. Several factors have been identified which could trigger one of the varieties of primary headaches in susceptible individuals. Secondary headaches occur due to an underlying cause such as a tumor, infection or bleeding within the brain. In this case, treating the underlying cause takes care of the headache. It is the primary headaches that pose a challenge in terms of diagnosis and management.
Why it occurs
A tension headache is the most common kind of primary headache. The pain is usually not debilitating. It is believed to be caused by a tightening of the muscles covering the skull. The pain tends to be especially severe above the eyes.
Cluster headaches are more commonly experienced by men than by women. As the name suggests, headaches occur in clusters, usually once or twice every day for a few days to a few weeks. This is followed by a pain free period, only to have the cycle recur after a few weeks. The episodes occur mostly at the same time every day, and last from about half an hour to an hour and a half each time. The pain is most severe around one eye. The affected eye sometimes becomes red and watery and is accompanied by a runny nose. The pain is usually severe and incapacitating.
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